Throughout the 2012 college season, TopDrawerSoccer.com will closely track some of the top candidates likely to make a successful jump to the pro ranks -- whether in MLS or elsewhere -- and track them on a weekly basis.
Here’s a look at some of the top performances from seniors and MLS Academy graduates from over the past week:
MLS SuperDraft Senior Highlight:
Jimmy Nealis, Defender, Georgetown
Stats: 76 games, 64 starts, 2 goals, 12 assists
Attributes: Left-footed defender, good pace, joins attack well and knows how to combine down the flank
Professional comparison: Marc Burch, Seattle Sounders
SuperDraft prediction: Second round/supplemental
Left backs are always in dire need, but this year’s senior draft class seems to have a number of decent options, including Georgetown’s Jimmy Nealis.
Almost a four-year starter on what is one of the best teams in the nation this year, Nealis spends a lot of his time on the attack, getting down the left flank to open things up in the box for the plethora of attacking options his team possesses.
With regards to his physical tools, Nealis has good size, a strong sense of when to get forward and add to the attack and when to stay home and keep things tight. However, he will need to specifically prove that he can be defensively consistent in order to earn a contract and time in MLS next season. There’s little questioning that he can do that, it’s a matter of putting it all together.
And while his game may be reminiscent of Seattle’s Marc Burch, Nealis has spent most of his collegiate career as a defender, while Burch was converted to left back after playing collegiately as a forward, so it’s a bit of a variation.
Senior Pro Prospects
MF Carlos Alvarez, Connecticut: Played 90 minutes and provided the assist on the game-winning goal against Villanova on Sunday.
MF Kyle Bekker, Boston College: Struggling with injury, Bekker missed BC’s ACC tournament game on Tuesday night, as the team lost 3-1 on penalty kicks and now await their tournament fate.
GK James Belshaw, Duke: His shutout streak came to an end on Tuesday night, as the Blue Devils fell 1-0 on the road to North Carolina. Belshaw’s season might be over if Duke doesn’t get an at large bid in the tournament, which is something of a long shot.
F Ashton Bennett, Coastal Carolina: The speedy striker had a goal and an assist in a 5-0 win over Presbyterian on Tuesday. The Jamaican has 14 goals and seven assists in his senior season.
MF Mitchell Cardenas, Campbell: Finished the week with a goal and three assists in two games, but it was not enough for Campbell to escape the first round of the Big South Championship. Cardenas finishes the regular season with eight goals and 14 assists.
F Julian Cardona, Penn State: The Nittany Lion’s lone game last week was cancelled due to weather.
MF Paolo DelPiccolo, Louisville: Put two shots on frame in Saturday’s contest against Marquette but neither found the back of the net, and Louisville now awaits an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
F Ryan Finley, Notre Dame: The prolific striker was once again an offensive catalyst, scoring a goal and adding an assist in a 4-2 conference tournament win over Syracuse.
D Joe Franco, Cal State Northridge: Named the Big West Defender of the Year earlier this week will help Franco’s draft stock. A run in the NCAA Tournament would do even more for his visibility on the national stage.
MF Jose Gomez, Creighton: Played 90 minutes in the Jays 2-1 win over Evansville last week. Creighton is rolling through the competition with eight wins in a row heading into the conference tournament.
MF Ryan Hollingshead, UCLA: Played a total of 212 minutes in the two overtime games for UCLA last week. Hollingshead and the Bruins are looking to capture the Pac-12 crown this Friday against San Diego State.
F Hakan Ilhan, UNC Greensboro: Finished his collegiate career with 29 goals and 19 assists in 55 games over three years.
D Taylor Kemp, Maryland: The left back made his first start in more than a month on Tuesday night, playing 90 minutes and performing well as the Terps won 2-1.
D Kory Kindle, CSU Bakersfield: Did not play in either Roadrunners game over the weekend. Finished the regular season with six goals in 15 starts for the MPSF program.
M Fernando Monge, UCLA: Named the Pac-12 Player of the Week after recording the golden goal against Stanford then leading the charge in a 1-1 draw against California. It was the first time in his career he received the honor.
D Tommy Muller, Georgetown: Played 90 minutes as the Hoyas booked a spot in the Big East quarterfinal as the center back has left the injury issues behind him.
MF Dillon Powers, Notre Dame: Put in a solid 90 minute shift as the Irish booked a spot in the Big East semifinals with a 4-2 come from behind win over Syracuse.
F Charlie Rugg, Boston College: Remains on the sidelines with a nagging injury as BC exited the ACC tournament on Tuesday evening.
F Devon Sandoval, New Mexico: Pushed his season tally to 14 goals and six assists with a goal and an assist in the 6-0 win over Houston Baptist. The target forward is the leading scorer for the Lobos.
D Eric Schoenle, West Virginia: Despite starting as a center back, Schoenle is the team’s leading scorer after bagging the game winner and helping his defense keep a clean sheet in a 1-0 win over Bowling Green.
F Blake Smith, New Mexico: Provided his 13th assists of the season on Saturday in a 6-0 win over Houston Baptist. Smith is tied for top honors in that category, but leads in assist per game.
F Donnie Smith, Charlotte: Has not appeared in Charlotte’s last two games. The 49ers did capture the Atlantic 10 Conference regular season title despite his absence.
F Chris Thomas, Elon: Scored his 22nd goal of the season in Elon’s 2-1 win over Davidson on Saturday. Thomas leads Division I in goals scored with his next closest competition (Ryan Finley, Notre Dame) four goals back.
F Emery Welshmen, Oregon State: The Beavers had the week off in preparation for the final game of the season against Washington on Friday. Welshmen is still tied for top honors in the Pac-12 in goals and points.
F Paul Wyatt, James Madison: Playing mostly in the midfield, Wyatt continues to step up his play in the later stages of the season, scoring twice and adding an assist as JMU won 4-3 in the CAA conference tournament on Monday.
MLS Academy Products
MF Ian Christianson, Georgetown (Chicago Fire, Senior): The central midfielder went the full 90 minutes as the Hoyas knocked off St. John’s in the Big East tournament on Saturday.
MF Bryan Ciesiulka, Marquette (Chicago Fire, Junior): The Fire product and leader of Marquette had an assist in the 3-0 win over Cincinnati on Wednesday. He then scored the game-winner against Louisville on Saturday to put the Golden Eagles into the Big East Semifinal.
MF Wil Trapp, Akron (Columbus Crew, Sophomore): Continued to provide a steadying presence in the Zips midfield as they picked up a 1-0 win against Western Michigan.
D London Woodberry, Maryland (FC Dallas, Senior): Sat out Tuesday’s 2-1 win against Virginia Tech because of a red card suspension.
D Mikey Ambrose, Maryland (FC Dallas, Freshman): With Kemp back in the lineup, Ambrose was the starting right back, going 90 minutes in a 2-1 win in the ACC tournament.
D Bradley Bourgeois, Tulsa (Houston Dynamo, Freshman): Played 90 minutes in the 2-1 win over Kenny Arena’s FIU Panthers. Bourgeois and the Tulsa defense finished the regular season with a 1.22 goals against average.
F Gyasi Zardes, CSU Bakersfield (LA Galaxy, Junior): Zardes notched his ninth assist of the season in a 1-1 draw against Air Force. The Galaxy Academy product finished his final collegiate regular season with 14 goals, nine assists in 16 games.
MF Scott Caldwell, Akron (New England Revolution, Senior): Fitting that the senior grabbed the game winning goal on senior night, a 1-0 win over Western Michigan. The attack continues to flow through the midfielder.
F Sean Okoli, Wake Forest (Seattle Sounders, Sophomore): The Sounders product continues to play well. He scored and set up a goal in Wake’s 2-2 draw against Virginia that saw the Deacons get knocked out of the ACC tourney on penalty kicks.
D DeAndre Yedlin, Akron (Seattle Sounders, Sophomore): Played 90 minutes from his right back spot in the 1-0 win over Western Michigan.